Brontosaurus

A baby brontosaurus is sleeping ‘cross the way
That would explain the humpy bump that’s been there all the day
Pshaw, you say, don’t you know that dinosaurs are gone?
But how else can I justify the lump outside the barn?

It’s smoothly gently rounded like a brontosaurus spine
Long neck and tail wrapped near its feet in a curving line
Sleeping, hibernating — beneath that mound of snow
The thing I really wonder is where did its mother go?


 

Underneath the massive pile of snow is our minivan.  Thank goodness, I don’t need it for the next few days.

The Last Hallelujah

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday.

Three years ago, Ash Wednesday began with an early phone call from my sister telling me that my brother had died unexpectedly. It brought a whole new depth to “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

Now the two events are forever linked in my mind — Ash Wednesday and Stewart’s death. Somber and sad.

This morning I was looking for a Collect for Shrove Tuesday and stumbled across a website where I would like to spend more time:  Liturgy  It’s the work of Bosco Peters, an Anglican priest in New Zealand. On his Shrove Tuesday page, he said,

This is the last day of the “Alleluias” until Easter. This day may even involve the burying of the Alleluia.

I loved the idea of making today a day of Hallelujahs, the last day of Hallelujahs before Easter.

I looked out the window and saw a little chickadee hopping around on a tree and imagined it chirruping Hallelujah. I could hear the stream in the basement (not a good thing, but a sign of spring) and saw the clear blue sky with puffy white clouds. Before I knew it, I was writing a little Hallelujah poem.

My day will be filled with Hallelujahs. Will you join me?


The chickadee hops from twig, branch, to limb
Chick-chick-a-dee hallelujah
The gurgle of water as snow melts to spring
Burble-splish-splosh hallelujah

10X sugar piles on robin’s egg sky
Azurean cerulean hallelujah
Mud-luscious earth, spikes of green occupy
Plant-sprouting-spring-shouting hallelujah

Brisk breeze brushes cheek in a chilly embrace
Shiver and shudder hallelujah
Remembering the quickening, tender touches of grace
Life, light, and love — hallelujah

Tomorrow hallelujah dies from our lips
We walk with both Jesus and Judas
Today we rejoice, putting darkness aside —
Come sing! Come shout! Hallelujah!trees

Threshold

threshold-076

Embattled as we are, we sound retreat
Sometimes we need a respite from the storm
To step away is not to cry defeat

Embattled as we are, we sound retreat
To solitude, to quiet oh-so-sweet
To limestone that the sun has warmed

Embattled as we are, we sound retreat
Sometimes we need a respite from the storm


Threshold at Laity Lodge in Texas is one of my favorite places in the whole world.

I’ve been there to watch the sun rise, and I’ve been there to watch the sun set — and I’ve been there at all hours in between.

It is peaceful and strong and restful and restorative. Who knew that a piece of art could do all that?

I probably have hundreds of photographs of Threshold — from close-ups of insects climbing on the limestone to all-encompassing shots taken from a distance as I walked around it to shots taken with her walls.

In Threshold, I recognize Psalm 48. I have numbered her towers – one – and  considered well her ramparts. It’s not Zion, but it points me in that direction.

Looking out from Threshold

Looking out from Threshold

looking up from inside Threshold

looking up from inside Threshold

One of my favorite people soaking in Threshold's goodness

One of my favorite people soaking in Threshold’s goodness

Footprints on the Deck on a Snowy Day

It all started when the cat wanted to go out — AGAIN — and then immediately wanted back in.

“It’s so simple,” I tell her. “Just make up your mind.”

But a cat’s brain doesn’t quite work that way.

So I wrote this — with apologies to Robert Frost.

Whose prints these are I think I know
She’s sitting by the window though
Her paws touched cold that made her veer
When out she ran into the snowimg_1109

My little cat must think it queer
Cold comes and goes this time of year
One day balmy, the next a flake
Falls — more fill the atmosphereimg_1118

Outside I watch her shiver, shake
Inside she mews her bellyache
To go outside where snow is deep
I wish in-out would take a breakimg_1115

Rough tongue wakes me from my sleep
Purring, padding, claws not deep
Outside she goes, then in she creeps
Outside she goes, then in she creeps

The Grandmother’s New Pants

A friend who is helping care for an elderly relative told me about one evening when she went to visit her aunt and she found her wearing no pants.  It reminded me of a poem I had written when my mother did something similar.

Here’s my poem:

 

My mother had no pants on
When she came down the stairs.
The funny thing about it was
It seemed she didn’t care.

The Emperor’s New Clothes became
The Grandmother’s New Pants –
Invisible clothes or missing –
I took another glance.

My children both politely
Turned their backs to her.
Modesty would dictate
Their behavior be demure.

“Mom, you need some pants on!”
“I know,” was all she said.
She settled in the kitchen,
Looking to be fed.

“Go put some pants on now,”
I commanded best I could.
“I will,” she said, but sat there,
So I didn’t think she would.

My father finally got her
To get up and find some pants.
I thought (but didn’t do)
A little happy dance.

Sometimes I let my toddlers
Run around with legs quite bare.
A child in only diapers
Would never get a stare.

But a grannie wearing panties,
Well, that’s a different sight.
Embarrassing for all involved —
It simply isn’t right.

So, help me, Lord, to understand
What is it I should do
When my mother comes down pantless
And doesn’t seem to have a clue.


It took some work for me to find the poem for my friend. I’ve started and stopped a number of blogs under various names.

Once I went through and started systematically deleting everything I had ever written — a self-inflicted devastation.

A lot of my writing is lost forever.

Meh.

Honestly, who cares? They’re just words.

I console myself with that fact that far more important words — words written by Jesus Himself in the dirt (John 8)  — are forever gone.

Yesterday, on a forum, someone asked this question: “…what are the favorite blog posts you have written? Perhaps not the ones that have generated the most traffic, though it could be that, but the ones that reveal you.”

Believe it or not, I thought of this little poem. Actually, I thought of a few little poems I’ve written. I still can’t find one of them.

But when words and life are hard, poetry — dumb little rhyming poems — give a structure and a lightness to my thoughts.

Does that happen to anyone else?

The Weight of Struggles

In 2011, my mind was spinning with all the information being thrown at me.  Bladder cancer.  Catheter care.  Chemotherapy.

That summer, my mother had been diagnosed with bladder cancer.

As if Alzheimer’s wasn’t enough.  As if a second bout with breast cancer wasn’t enough.  As if my father needing a pacemaker wasn’t enough.

In the midst of all this, I wrote a poem based on Milo of Croton, the legendary Greek wrestler who began each day lifting a calf.

Okay -- not lifting a calf here.

Okay — not lifting a calf here.

The legend goes that by lifting the same calf every morning, Milo could eventually lift a full-grown cow or bull. I didn’t need to lift a physical cow, rather a heavy load of struggles, one that was increasing in size.

If I lift the same calf every day
Could I someday lift a cow?
It seems logical and sensible
But impossible somehow.

Somehow I become broken
And it’s more than I can take.
Will I see failure coming?
Or do I need to break?

Or do I need a break
From lifting up the cow?
Am I stronger then, or weaker,
When I start to bow?

To bow under the pressure that’s
So heavy on my soul
That the spirit and mind and body
All begin to show the toll;

When can I say “Uncle”
And deal with this no more?
I strain under the calf-turned-cow
My cheek pressed to the floor,

Trying to lift up the cow,
But the Lifter of my head
Says, “Let Me help. Stop a while.
I’ll put others in your stead.

“Let friends come beside you.
You can take a rest.
Trust Me; it will be okay.
I really know what’s best.”

But the habit formed of lifting,
Lifting, lifting every day
Is scary to give up.
Lord, show me the way.

During that time I felt God answering every prayer I ever prayed about knowing Him more, trusting Him more, and resting in Him more completely.

The funny thing about challenges is that the harder they are, the deeper we grow.

I couldn’t meet the challenges.

At least not alone.

I found myself clinging to my faith during that challenging time.

Faith is not a crutch as some might say.  It is a Strength.

It’s also faithful friends — that hands and feet of Christ.

I wrote Milo of Croton 5 years ago — and I think I still haven’t learned to yield.

But I’m certainly stronger.

Thanks be to God.

Windchimes

DSC05667“I wish your mother could see those windchimes,”
my father said,
looking at the green butterflies
and brass bells.

Their gentle tinkle
was beyond his hearing
like my mother was beyond …
I don’t know.

Beyond the day
when he could repay
for late nights
and house calls
and meetings
and reserve duty
and patients calling
and dinner waiting
and waiting
and waiting
for him to be home

She always had to share him
with the sick
the poor
the destitute

and with other physicians
and administrators
and nurses
and important folk
who received the same courtesy
as the unimportant

My mother may have felt
that she came last

So he bought the windchimes
last summer
and hung them
in the myrtle
where the gentlest breeze
could flutter through
and make
a plinkle-chinkle-tinkle
barely audible
wings brushing bells

My mother closed her eyes
from weariness
a few miles
and lifetimes
away

At the end
she had to know
that she was
always
first
as he spooned
the ice cream
into her mouth
and told her
that he loved her
time
and
again

the butterflies
could never speak
so clearly